Herbs & Tubes

Updated 18th May 06

Deletions for consideration by manager

Tube Stock Job Description

This job description MUST be read in conjunction with:
(a) Guidelines for staff in charge of a section
(b) Guidelines for buyers
(c) Bulleen Art and Garden Environmental Weed Policy

The sales that you generate, the service you provide to our customers and the profitability of these areas will be determined by how you buy, maintain, display and price your plants. It is important to experiment in this area with both product range and display; it has a lot more potential, which must be realised.

Keep up to date with declared noxious weeds and do not order these. Recent examples are Italian Lavender and Cardoons. It is illegal to buy or sell any part of these plants. Refer to the Victorian Government Department of Natural Resources and Environment website at: www.nre.vic.gov.au and enter document number LC0252 in search box. Alternatively, follow links: Plants and Animals, Pest Plants and Animals, Pest Plants, Weeds to reach listing of classified noxious weeds in Victoria.


Stock levels
Because most of the plants you are buying are in 75mm pots you have to be very careful to get the quantities you buy and stock tuned to what you are selling. All plants have a limited shelf life, generally the smaller the pot the shorter the shelf life so get your quantities tuned to the season and to reflect what you anticipate selling in the next fortnight.
You should never have more plants on the bench than you can sell within the next 2 to 3 weeks. Most suppliers will supply in quantities as small as five so there is no need to buy in full or half trays. If you cannot buy them in sufficiently small numbers to avoid excessive wastage, you should not stock them. Sales are going to vary significantly through the year; your stock levels must reflect them.

Once a month do a stock take of the tube sections –grasses, groundcovers, herbs, cottage, small shrubs, shade plants. The stock take list is under C/DATA/Nursery/Tubes Weekly Stocktake (excel spreadsheet). NB. This hasn’t been done for a while. I just buy according to what is selling, season and the weather forecast.

Sales are going to vary considerably through the year, with a peak in spring and a lull in winter. Adjust the stock you have on the bench accordingly. In summer buy only stock with long shelf life and drought-hardy. Cut back stock in early summer to extend shelf life.
Tubed plant sales are also going to surge when they are in flower, work your impulse sections and display them in the high traffic areas, flowering stock can be limited so it is important you get in the early with your orders. You have to be careful to keep the stock of true perennials low in April and May; they are not going to sell when they die back in winter.

At Bulleen we have been trying to build a reputation for always stocking a good range of plants. This is becoming increasingly difficult as the quality and range of herb tubes is in decline. May have to stock more 4” in the future to extend the range.
Herb sales are going to be reasonably predictable. Good records of stock and purchases are therefore a must if you are going to tune your buying to sales.

Since April 2006, the decision was made buy the tube and Indig. buyers at the time, and Nursery Manager, Mac, to not stock any 3” tubes that are available in indigenous tubes, therefore encouraging people to buy Indigenous. The varieties that are generally available in both are, Viola hederacea, Dicondra repens, Goodenia ovata, Dianella longifolia, Dianella tasmanica, Poa lab, Poa siberiana, Kennedia prostrata. Therefore you should avoid buying these and co-ordinate your buying with the Indig, buyer, making sure they can have these whenever possible. As the Indig. supplier sometimes sells out of a variety for quite a while, it may be worth getting some in 3”. This is not a strict policy or anything, just something to think about and work with as much as possible.

Plants must be displayed in alphabetical order of genus, then species, this will assist you to effectively monitor stock, and help the customers to locate the plants they want without time consuming enquiries. The only exception is in the herb section where the tubes are arranged alphabetically by common name. Try to keep 3” relatively near the corresponding 6” variety on grasses, groundcovers, small shrubs and shade benches. This stock is displayed on individual stands or racks above the bench.
General divisions of stock to ground covers, small shrubs, medium shrubs and cottage plants will offer customers easier selection. These sections should reflect the customers most asked questions whether it be they want herbs, colour in the shade or whatever, these sections should be continually experimented with. Your plant groupings should be made very clear to your customers with your signage, it will save a lot of selling time for nursery staff and generate sales.
Your plants bought for impulse sales must be placed in high traffic areas. Be careful buying impulse during late autumn and winter.

Remember that even though some plants may be bought on sale or return (eg. during a sale) they still require maintenance
Good housekeeping is essential in maintaining this high turnover area.
Unlabelled plants are not going to sell; they are wasting valuable bench space and will, eventually have to be tossed out. It costs far less, and is a lot less frustrating, to put back the old label than write a new one. Therefore before you do anything else return all labels lying around to their correct pots and ensure all plants are correctly labelled with labels aligned and facing the customer.
A weekly culling of sub standard stock, weeding and pruning maintenance is essential. You have not finished your areas until you have picked up all empty trays and raked the area.
It is important that you report poor watering in your absence to the nursery manager.

Customers are not going to buy these plants unless they are clearly priced. Therefore make sure you have very conspicuous signs for the price of the 3 ” pots and all other plants are priced individually. Tubes are $3.75 each, or $3.25 each if you buy 5 or more, unless otherwise marked. Some are more expensive to buy in and are marked at a higher price. These are priced individually with a white nursery price sticker. You are required to run a weekly special to create circulation. Specials are priced individually with the special gun at $2.45 each. Signs need to be made up for these specials. Fill out a sign form on the internal website.
Multiple buys must always be clearly displayed in the area. Always run multiple buys they do work.

The same half price specialling procedures should be adopted as the general nursery. A section where stock is starting to deteriorate or overstocked should always be run in a back corner with clear signage, half price specials. The plants in this section should always be healthy and it should be maintained at all times to the same high level as the rest of your area. The half price area should generate more sales per square metre than the rest of your bench space and save us more money than we would make if we were selling first quality plants from it. These sell best from a separate bench near the specials area or the perennials area.
You should also run a small, well-ticketed section where first quality plants are specialled, typically at 35% above cost. Keep these specials to a single variety and to something that is in high demand right now. Give the customer a good deal with a product that looks great or they want anyhow. Keep this well clear of the half price special section.

Summer is a hard time to keep stock looking good. It grows too fast and it is difficult to keep the water up to it. Keep stock levels low and cut back oversized stock.

It is logical with tubes to put all stock away at once on Thursday afternoon and evening, i.e. once all suppliers have delivered. This will prevent double handling. Unless in spring when there are many deliveries and the trolley can fill up almost twice. Then it should be done Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Record Keeping
Record keeping with sale or return is very important; slackness in this area will result in the benefits being lost when credits are not realised. NB. I have not been able to get sale or return from any suppliers lately.
(Mac needs clarification of system for sale or return)

Tube growers seem particularly prone to growing weed species. You should be familiar with plants on weed lists from the council, the website www.weeds.org.au and the book- Flora of Melbourne. Also refer to SGA’s weed list in the information stand. Do not stock any Tall Agapanthus ever. Do be aware of Weeds and Weed Potential when buying, as many suppliers still grow weeds. Also only ever stock Bronze Fennel.

Safety at BAAG is more important than customer service!

Electric tractors
There is a risk of a serious accident with the electric tractors. These tractors can pull five-ton and so could crush a leg or a toddler’s head. BE VERY CAREFUL. Do not let your legs hang out the side, take keys out and switch off when not in use AND NEVER SPEED, A TODDLER COULD COME OUT FROM BEHIND A BENCH.

Lifting and bending
Be sensible with your lifting and bending. It is continuous, so talk to senior nursery staff for techniques for lifting and to minimise bending. Straighten your back regularly and spend the time to get in the best position. Use your free arm to support your body when reaching. Never lift anything that you find too heavy and do not hesitate to ask for assistance. When full of plants the large plant trolleys should be towed into the nursery with an electric tractor. If this is not possible, two people should always push a heavy trolley. It is too heavy for one person to push.

Personal safety
Be aware of and reduce or communicate (with signs if appropriate) hazards to you and customers associated with handling plants, eg. Climbers and other staked plants and deciduous trees in winter- historically every few years someone in industry loses eye.
6.4 Tools and safety
Put your tools away and always roll up your hoses. We have a lot of elderly customers but anyone can break a limb tripping over a hose or rake left carelessly lying around.

Your responsibility and duty
As in all sections of the nursery safety comes first. If you see a hazard it is more important than anything else, including customers, and you must do something about it straight away. The new laws make you now individually responsible and it is surprising how easy it is for a serious accident or a death to occur in the workplace. You must all contribute actively and positively to the health and safety of other staff and our customers.

Materials Handling
If anything in this job description is unclear, appears outdated or requires some training for you to perform, please let your manager or supervisor know.
As you become familiar with this job it is your responsibility to suggest ways that we can make it safer, more efficient and better able to work in with other people’s tasks. Please communicate any suggestions to managers or put them in the suggestion box.

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